Middle East
Teacher's Guide

April 12, 2000 Update
Remember, the "Kids' Versions" are aimed at K-6.

Check out this date's update
The team generated the following reports: Try the following activities:

Abeja - Out of Town, Across the Sand, Into the City: Nothin' but Desert! Iran Gets Creative with Wind and Water

The team drives through the Dasht-é Kavir and the Dasht-é Lut deserts, in central Iran, and visits the city of Yazd. There they discover the irrigation and building techniques necessary for desert living, including the Badgirs wind tunnels, the Ghanat tunnels used in irrigation and traditional mud-and-brick houses.

This dispatch highlights ways to make desert living more comfortable and viable using natural resources. Have students list and discuss the ways their own country or community utilizes natural resources for power, housing (i.e., solar energy, windmills, mud and brick housing). Are we doing enough? Are enough people participating?

Brian - My Visit to the Vank (pronounced Bonk)

This dispatch discusses Christianity in Iran. Specifically, it describes and focuses on the Vank Cathedral, built during the Golden Age of Persian architecture in the city of Esfahan, which is an important church for Christians in Iran, who are primarily Armenian immigrants.

People aren't always what they seem, as evidenced by the universal habit (no pun intended) of wearing the chardos. Both Muslim and non-Muslim women must wear them in Iran, yet for most onlookers this garment is an immediate association with the Muslim faith and culture. Facilitate a discussion in which students share how they may have been misperceived, or how they have misperceived others, because of appearances.

Jasmine - The Golden Age: Safavid Rule
NOTE: Kids' Version Available

The team visits Kashan and Esfahan, Iran to trace the history of the Third Great Persian Empire, The Safavid Dynasty. The team discusses Shah Abbas I, the founder and hero of the 200-year reign of the Safavid Dynasty.

The rulers of the Safavid Dynasty were considered the greatest rulers in Iranian history. Under their leadership, from 1502 to 1722CE, Persia (now modern-day Iran) experienced a surge of growth, wealth, and expansion. With their 200-year reign came a united Iran, and the foundation on which modern-day Iran is built. Discuss with students in more detail how this exactly happened. Is there a similar dynasty in their country's history that ruled so favorably?

Kavitha - Balancing East and West: Pars Grows Up

A fictitious story about an Iranian boy who goes to America for college, who struggles upon return to reconcile his new modern beliefs with his family's old Zoroastrian traditions.

What does this dispatch say about the nature of culture tolerance and inclusion in our country? Do we foster a hyper-assimilation that could encourage people from other cultures to shun or scorn their traditions the way Pars did? How could his experience in America have been more inclusive of his culture while at the same time welcoming him into our own? Assign this as an essay.

Monica - Home is where the Heart is.... Zartosht's House

The team visits two examples of typical Zoroastrian houses. Architectural details and their relation to the religion are presented.

Notice the attention and detail given to the use of image and art in Zoroastrian architecture. The messages are used to convey religious and moral messages of welcome, divinity, and history. Ask the class to write an essay discussing what the images prevalent in our culture convey - and - what new messages might they wish to convey if they could write on their walls.

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